A parish that has been at the heart of Dublin City for almost two centuries will come together in celebration this weekend.
On Sunday, (29th April), St Andrew’s Church on Westland Row will celebrate its 180th anniversary. The celebrations are being held in preparation for the Eucharistic Congress which takes place in June. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will be the principal celebrant of the anniversary Mass which takes place at 11.30am.
In 1832 the Parish Priest, Dr Michael Blake, laid the foundation stone for what was described as “perhaps the largest and most costly edifice in the Kingdom”. The church cost £20,000 to build, a large sum reflecting the new-found confidence of Irish Catholics in the period after Emancipation. The decision to build St Andrews was also strongly supported by one of its most eminent parishioners, Daniel O’Connell.
The parish of St Andrew’s includes some of the most important public institutions in Dublin including The Houses of the Oireachtas, The Mansion House, Trinity College and The National Library, Gallery and Museum. Throughout the years the church has seen State funerals, celebrity weddings, formal public liturgies and intimate local and family occasions.
Today St Andrew’s serves a diverse community that reflects the reality of Catholic life in Dublin. Hundreds of people drop into the church every week to light a candle, say a prayer or simply to take a few minutes out for reflection. Many attend Mass daily, much as James Joyce described in Ulysses, when he wrote about the church as All Hallows, after the ancient Priory on whose lands it is built.
The parish community will use the anniversary celebrations as a time for renewal and rededication. They will be joined by members of the Lithuanian community as St Andrew’s is also home to the Lithuanian National Chaplaincy.